And On to the Abstentions

FairWinds Partners —  December 18, 2012

The fact that 1,766 new gTLD applications participated in ICANN’s Prioritization Draw held yesterday is interesting for two reasons: first, because such a high percentage (92%) chose to participate, and second, because some very interesting applications opted to not participate in the Draw. Last night we took a look at the first new gTLD applications drawn. Today we’ll examine which will be at the back of the line.

Let’s start with some numbers. On Reveal Day, we found out that 1,930 applications were submitted in total. Since then, 13 applications have been withdrawn (you can see the full list by going here and selecting “Application Status” and then “Withdrawn” from the two drop-down menus at the top of the page), leaving 1,917 applications still in play. Of those, 1,766 participated in the Draw, meaning 151 applications opted out. Like with the Draw, ICANN sorted IDNs first; after the 108 that participated in the Draw, only eight remained. That means that slots 1,775 through 1,917 are held by a combination of generic, branded and geographic, non-IDN gTLD applications.

A handful of brand owners decided to opt out of the Draw, including auto makers General Motors (.BUICK, .CADILLAC, .CHEVROLET, .CHEVY and .GMC), Ford (.FORD and .LINCOLN), and Volvo (.VOLVO) – despite the fact that competitors Audi, Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Fiat and Suzuki all participated. Of the auto companies, Fiat’s application for .FIAT came out first, with draw number 155. Similarly, Estée Lauder opted out for its .CLINIQUE, .LAMER and .ORIGINS applications, whereas L’Oréal, with applications for .LANCOME and .KEIHLS, among others, opted to participate.

What was perhaps even more interesting were the companies that decided to buy into the Draw for some applications but not others. Richemont, the luxury goods manufacturer that applied for 14 strings, opted out on four applications: its two IDN strings and its applications for .WATCHES and .JEWELRY. Almost all of Richemont’s other applications are for branded terms except for one, .LOVE, which actually came out on top of Richemont’s lot, drawing number 466. .LOVE is in contention with six other applicants, whereas .WATCHES is not in direct contention and .JEWELRY only has one direct contender. One possible explanation for the split is Early Warnings: the four applications for which Richemont opted out all received Early Warnings from the GAC, which may have caused Richemont to choose to delay.

In a similar fashion, Google opted to keep nearly a quarter of its applications (24 of the 98 that remain after the company withdrew three) out of the Draw. These applications span different terms and registry models, but by far the most interesting string left out of the Draw was .SEARCH. Google will be in contention with three other applicants for the string, including Amazon. Another applicant for .SEARCH, dot Now Limited, also opted out of the Draw, while the remaining two applicants, Donuts and Amazon, drew numbers 1,179 and 1,305, respectively.

Finally, Fidelity, which seemed to be planning an aggressive new gTLD strategy by not only applying for its brand, .FIDELITY, but also industry-defining terms .IRA, .MUTUALFUNDS and .RETIREMENT, decided to opt out of the Draw for all four applications. On the other hand, none of its applications is in contention, so the company may just be taking the extra time to launch its new gTLDs.